Sometimes my family can't figure me out. What do I mean SOMETIMES? I personally think it is good to be in my early 50s and still keep people guessing. However, I've been thinking of my split personality and I'm positive it is not a mental illness. I blame it on my mother. (How Freudian of me.)
Although I was born in the Midwest, I was raised by a Southern woman. Family legend has it that Mom was about eight months pregnant when she and Dad moved here. I have learned family legends are not always correct, especially if they were told to me by Mom. For instance, she never met my father's parents (as Mom and Dad married in middle age) but she thought they probably had not been in the country very long because they had a German last name. When my son-in-law traced my family history, my paternal relatives were around during the American Revolution. Yeah Mom, they were immigrants. I guess since they weren't native Americans...
Southern women have a way of looking at the world that I find lovely, sweet, and at times...confusing. For instance, my mother had all these sayings we called "Mamaw-isms". She constantly told me I couldn't go in the water until I learned to swim. I was never to run with a pencil in my hand in case I fell and died of lead poisoning. If I left home and realized I'd forgotten something, thus requiring me to return to get it, I had to do some bizarre ritual akin to throwing salt over my shoulder. Mom's idea of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb would be fried chicken, fried potatoes, fried okra, cucumber and onion salad, and banana pudding made with Nella Wafers. Loretta Lynn would be the queen if Mom had anything to do with it. Elvis was the King.
I loved visiting my Southern relatives with the china, crystal, silver (which was never used when we were there, just displayed) and sweet tea (which was served). I loved the way my cousins talked and how both my parents would return home with thicker accents for at least a week. I loved the Southern porches and the hospitality. Not that Midwesterners don't have these things or show hospitality, it's just an art form in the South.
The Southern woman came out in my mother in a very special way, too. Even when she was a widow making $1.00 an hour, she got her hair done every week. If she had to skip lunches, she'd get her hair washed, a color rinse, teased and re-formed into a perfect sculpture which stayed that way until the following visit to the salon. I can't remember some family members but I can remember many of the hairdressers (for there were only a few, hair dressers were like members of the family so one didn't visit another salon unless one was on vacation in another town).
So what brought all of this to mind? Well, for one thing, I'm sitting here listening to Elvis on my headphones and I have a hankering for fried chicken the way mom made it and banana pudding. Also, I was talking to my oldest sister (half sister but we never look upon it that way) on the phone yesterday who always reminds me of my mother (but never tell her that!).
Gosh do I miss Mom.